Disclaimer: the isn’t the usual sugar and sam blog post that you’re used to. If this brings up the bad and you need to talk there are a lot of great resources in YYC: here. Comments are turned off but if you want to share your thoughts send me an email or DM on Insta.
Our society has a long way to go.
The more I read about #metoo and the more I reflect on my own experiences the more angry I get. The part that I find the most infuriating is how many situations I’ve been in where people make subtle, offhand comments that condone unwanted sexual advances. We’ve all heard jokes about it and slowly all of these little comments become engrained in our heads. This starts when we’re young and persists in our grown adult minds.
Let me tell you an example: I was at a party a few years ago and was making small talk with a group (three men, one woman and me). They started telling a story about their friend who is notorious for bringing girls home. One night, he brought home this girl who was so drunk that her bra fell off and she didn’t know. Still, he took her to bed and they could hear from the other room that while they were having sex she was asking where she was and who he was. The group laughed and made comments like “that’s so typical for (name I don’t remember).” I was listening to this story and red flags were going off like crazy…I couldn’t put a word to it until after I stepped away from the situation. There’s no question in my mind now, that man raped that woman. She was far too drunk to consent and regardless of if she was flirty at the bar she was not in any shape to be having intercourse with anyone. To this day I kick myself for not losing my shit and calling it what it was in that moment. I don’t know if I was scared to bring up the ‘r word’ to people I didn’t know, or if I didn’t want to get in what would be an enviable back and forth of them telling me he is a good guy and would never rape someone, and me trying to explain consent. Anyway, all this to say, out of five of us in the conversation only I saw something wrong and not at all hilarious with that story.
Rape and sexual assault don’t always appear the same. Consent isn’t implied and yes, even your friend who is a good man (or woman) can be guilty of causing someone’s #metoo status.
I’m guilty of letting these ideas persist too. I remember being 18 and starting to go to bars and having my butt grabbed (or worse) and talking to a friend about how it’s just part of the culture. I would slap my 18 year old self if I could. I don’t venture into bars much anymore, but the last time I went out to a dancing bar I went to Ranchmans with some girlfriends. I was walking to get water when these two guys probably in their 30s grabbed my butt (yes one after the other…creepy AF). I stopped, backed up and promptly lectured them about how that’s not ok. They went on the defence and told me I didn’t know how to have a good time, how I needed to loosen up, etc. etc. I walked away from the situation feeling stupid and embarrassed…but why? These men were guilty of touch without consent, tried to justify it as how I should accept their harassment because it was fun for them, and then I walked away feeling like I did something wrong? I have a pretty strong personality, I can be stubborn and I’m incredibly opinionated…yet these two men made me feel dumb for standing up for myself.
These little seemingly innocent unwanted advances are anything but innocent and certainly not ok. No matter what someone is wearing and what venue you are at, it is never acceptable to grab at someone you don’t know.
As a 27 year old woman, I have endless stories to share about times when men have made me feel uncomfortable with their words and actions then tried to play it off as nothing. From that time a colleague tried to tell me that I owed him something because he bought me drinks at a bar (the drinks weren’t ‘free’ he said), to when I was pushed into a locked bedroom with a guy I didn’t know (my male friend who got me out of the room me said I was too drunk and shouldn’t have been talking to that guy so much), to unsolicited dick pics I get in my DM (they say I bring it on because I post photos of myself)…we all have our stories and the terrible justification that comes with it.
At the heart of this very long blog post I have one promise for myself and one request for you (no matter how you identify): stop justifying this shit.